Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Best of Seekerville from the Archives and First Five Pages Critique

Writing Guy by Tina Radcliffe

Ever have a contest judge tell you your guys don't sound like guys?

Did they use the words : girly, wimpy or the dreaded feminine to describe your Alpha Male, your Reluctant Hero, your Beta Man?

So maybe you need a leetle help in the Guy department.

There are lots of ways to learn Guy.

Observe the species in the wild. Eavesdrop.

Do your homework with books and movies. Understanding the basic mental differences between men and women can help you write Guy.

10 Big Differences Between Men's and Women's Brains by Amber Hensley

Or check out Madame Zelda's Characterization techniques to channel your Guy.

I have a few favorite Guy Flicks. These movies really help you get into the Guy psyche.

Transporter (1, 2 and 3)

Casino Royale

Bourne (all of them)

The Untouchables

Die Hard
(any and all)


Lethal Weapon

Feel free to add to my list.

One of my absolute favorite books on the topic is Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys

It's a terrific and hilarious peek into a guy's mind. (Yes, scary too.)

A little joke from the book:

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: ''Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?''

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gee, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let's see . . ...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed -- even before I sensed it -- that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they'd better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a $#@% garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of myself-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a $#@% warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their ...

''Roger,'' Elaine says aloud.

''What?'' says Roger, startled.

''Please don't torture yourself like this,'' she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ''Maybe I should never have . . Oh God, I feel so ...'' (She breaks down, sobbing.)

''What?'' says Roger.

''I'm such a fool,'' Elaine sobs. ''I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse.''

''There's no horse?'' says Roger.

''You think I'm a fool, don't you?'' Elaine says.

''No!'' says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

''It's just that . . . It's that I . . . I need some time,'' Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

"Yes,'' he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

''Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?'' she says.

''What way?'' says Roger.

''That way about time,'' says Elaine.

''Oh,'' says Roger. ''Yes.'' (Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse.

(At last she speaks.)

''Thank you, Roger,'' she says.

''Thank you,'' says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: ''Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?''

--Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys

Seeker Tips to Writing Guy

1. Glynna Kaye: I don't let him get too wordy. Or wax too poetic.

2. Camy Tang:

Short sentences and simple words--flowery sentences are not manly.

And if all else fails, I ask my husband if a guy would say XXX. He usually tweaks it into some sports reference.

3. Mary Connealy:

"I always under dialogue my guy. Women talk things through-Men think things through.

I often cut the guys dialogue several times to make it terse. Have them grunt on occasion. Have them think a whole bunch of stuff then just say, "No."

To have him announce decisions rather than discuss how he's coming to the decision."

4. Janet Dean:

Dialogue tips: My heroes tend to use shorter sentences and leave off words. Instead of "It sounds expensive." They'd say, "Sounds expensive." They use last names for other males when they're talking or thinking about them, even themselves. Whoa, Jacobs instead of Whoa, Luke. They use fewer adjectives or flowery words. They tend to give orders instead of making requests, which can get them in trouble. :-) Occasionally I like to have them say, "Yes, ma'am." to add levity or show good manners.
Description: I give my heroes broad shoulders, rippling muscles, large forearms and hands and thick hair, but other details like hair and eye color and height vary.

5. Ruth Logan Herne:

I love 'mini' movements, like the Richard Gere squint, the jaw muscle twitch of Harrison Ford, the slight incline of chin of Mark Harmon as Gibbs in NCIS, the direct stare that sets feminine hearts a-twitching...

Male sensuality exudes from understated actions in a lot of cases, so I try to employ that.
They have to have a sense of humor to accompany the sexy quirks, otherwise they're just not worth the bother. ;)

6. Pam Hillman:

My heroes stomp, stride, or saunter. They do not mince, tiptoe, or glide. They growl, grumble, or drawl. They do not shriek, squeal, or screech. A lot of this "tough man" description is seen and/or heard in the heroine's pov. It's in the movement and the words. Even a slow, quiet loner can have those Clint Eastwood moves: swagger, narrowing of the eyes, squint, smirk, cocked hip. Then when somebody like that does strike out (like drawing a gun, or throwing a punch), it looks and feels like lightening!


Instead of walking: "Jake’s long legs ate up the distance as he stomped out his rounds, the thoughts in his head swirling faster than the snow flurries from the week before."

Instead of knocking: "Jake rapped his knuckles on the kitchen door."

7. Julie Lessman:

Think football: muscles, sweat, grunts, and monosyllables. Athletes don't meander all over the field -- they focus on one thing like a heat-seeking missile. Writing guys is much the same way -- with dialogue, internal monologue and actions. Dialogue? Guys talk in clipped, straight-forward language and sentences, not with explanations and feelings like women do. Internal monologue/thoughts? Never sentimental and pining like a girl's, but focused on one thing, be it his anger, his attraction or his regret. Men never belabor a point or give much thought to it like women do. And actions? Usually stubborn, casual and sometimes gruff. Gentleness is okay, but only when you have a major streak of something more dominant that tips the balance toward all male.

8. Myra Johnson:

I like to write my guy characters with a touch of humor, no matter how serious the story is. Maybe a klutzy thing that shows how much they really need a woman in their life. Or a hint of irony in their outlook or speech. Able to laugh at themselves. Not too much ego but a solid sense of their own identity. Strong when it counts.

9. Audra Harders:

In creating a hero, I start by assessing the qualities I need for him to have. That's the easy part I spend time listening to country music, especially Chris LeDoux and George Strait (who better to create cowboy images??). As the hero gels in my head, I start thinking about movie characters and end up watching a specific movie featuring a character with specific traits -- not necessarily cowboy character, actually, I rarely watch cowboy characters at all. Then, once I find the male character, I watch that movie over and over and over again until I see him, hear him, smell him in my sleep. Once I've *digested* him --or devoured, which ever works -- it's easy for me to transfer those traits into the character I'm working with. I find this gives him a dimension I can't create by just sitting down at the computer and conjuring up a hero.

Ha, I"m not going to give away all my secrets, but you'd never guess what kind of characters I get stuck on and turn into heroes in my books : )

10. Missy Tippens:

Most guys worry about being good providers or being successful at their work. When I'm getting inside their heads, I usually make them worry about things that have to do with their pride. They're going to worry about looking inept in front of the heroine. They worry about being worthy in her parents' eyes. Or worry that they can give her whatever it is she needs.

Any questions? Okay, let's Write Guy.

Tina Radcliffe has been scribbling for years. She's sold dozens of short stories to magazines such as the Trues and Woman's World. In 2010 she achieved her goal of selling her novel length fiction to Love Inspired. The Rancher's Reunion was a January 2011 release and Oklahoma Reunion will be an October 2011 release.

She believes you should never, ever, give up on your dreams. When she's not working the day job, or writing, which is the dream job, she plans world domination with Mary Connealy. Or possibly just Nebraska.

This post first appeared in Seekerville 10/16/2009

Don't forget...

Today is the last day to be considered for our weekly critique.
More info here.


  1. That's just plain fun.

    I too ask my hubby how he would say a thing. He not only added guy-ness, he's given it HUMOR. :)

    This was a good post! Since some of us weren't around "way back then" - I'm glad you're trotting these jewels out for us to enjoy... It's a regular Jubilee!

  2. Whadda ya mean way back when? When dinosaurs roamed the earth? LOL.

  3. Loved the tips on writing guys! And the Roger and Elaine story. I can so relate! :)

    Thanks, Tina, for a second look at a great blog.

    I plugged in the coffee. Should be ready for the early risers.

  4. How to think like a guy:

    Pretend you’re a caveman. You and five other guys, each with stone axes and spears, are on the hunt for a wooly mammoth. This giant could kill any one of you easily. It is only as a team that you can bring the beast down. You stalk in a group, quietly, ever mindful of the wind direction. You gesture with your hands but say as little as possible. You show no fear. Food for the tribe is at stake. Females favor the good hunters. You are quiet for hours at a time, ever moving, ever scanning the horizon.

    You set the ambush and spring the attack. Two of you are gored but the animal is brought down. The best runner is sent back to the camp to bring help in carrying the food back. While waiting the hunters quietly scan their surrounding for predators who would take their bounty. They tend their wounds and wonder what their scars will look like.


  5. So love this blog! And I also run most of my dialogue by my husband. He always tells me that guys don't talk that much because they're too preoccupied with thinking about how to breath and walk at the same time. Oh, and sex--they're thinking about sex.

    Don't you just love them!


  6. Yes. That sounds just like men in Costco, Vince.

  7. You know, not only was this a fun post, but a very helpful one! And not only is it helpful for writing about guys, but perhaps even understanding them in general, which I don't.

    That example from Dave Barry's Complete Guide To sad, but probably super true! Man, it must be so nice to be a guy!!

    Thanks for this, Tina! ;)


  8. That Roger and Elaine story is great! It's so true. I can see the differences between guys and girls every school day among my seniors and when I take note of the interactions of the younger members of my family. (When the sisters and nieces are discussing, the older men have learned to remain silent--because whatever they say will be used against them!) Thanks for putting together all this info, Tina. Now I think I'll go re-watch one of those guy movies . . .

  9. Fun post, ladies :)

    If you want to know how a woman can write guy with her eyes closed, check out Ronie Kendig's Discarded Heroes series - Nightshade, Digitalis, Wolfsbane (July) & Firethorn (Jan, 12). She nails it every time.



    Now I feel left out. Bereaved. Befuddled.

    But that could just be old age kicking in.

    Oh, TEEEEEEENSTER, this is even better than it was whenever because it's PERFECT.

    How often do I say perfect about someone besides myself?


    LOVED IT THIS MUCH! Thank you for dusting this one off because reading how we attack our heroes is just a great reminder of How-To in one quick read!

    You rock.

    I miss Helen. No coffee. But I made a big pot, it's Saturday, and I'm not starting it too early... Don't want it to be 'old' for you sleepyheads!

    I'm doing a meet and greet breakfast down in the REAL Allegany County today.

    Just a beautiful place to spend time, in fact and fiction.

  11. Ooops, Deb, didn't see the coffee pot.


    And Rel, yes, Ronie does a great job of 'guy-speak-write!' Thanks for the shout-out!

  12. This was great! It gave me a jump start to my day and is going to be saved to my "articles" file for future reference. I may have to go pick up the Dave Barry book - it sounds hysterical if the excerpt is any indication.

  13. Oh Great post, Tina.
    And all the Seeker hints were really helpful.
    I like to watch movies that remind me of my heroes, but I have to edit thoroughly because I make my guys too wordy.
    I have a pretty wordy hubby

  14. Sooooo helpful. And the Dave Barry quote is HYSTERICAL. Saving this one!

    Great stuff, Tina!

  15. I just love this post, Tina! Fun to review all the tips for making our guys ring true!

    Dave Barry's Elaine and Roger story makes me want to head hop! Desperately. Soooo hilarious!!

    A friend asked her d/h what guys talked about on the golf course. He said, "Nice shot." "Your turn." In essence nothing. LOL


  16. Oh, Teenster, this is one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE blogs, seriously!!! But then I LOVE talking "guy." :)

    Happy Mother's Day, All!!


  17. So they don't talk about their wardrobe on the golf course? How strange.

  18. I just love Roger and Elaine!


    I thought about sharing that with my husband, but then he’d wonder (maybe for all of 3 seconds) why I thought he would need to read it.

  19. Hi Tina:

    It’s not that men don’t say much. It’s just that they don’t need many words to say all that needs to be said.

    Men use words to communicate. Women use words because, like music, they enjoy the noise it makes.

    And yes, it’s great to be a guy…as long as there are enough women around.


  20. This post is just too funny today, Tina!!! Love it...thanks!

  21. Vince you speak fluent female it seems. My hubby does too. It makes for a great relationship. :)

    Is the weather as glorious where you are? Middle TN is outstanding today.

    I just dug up a bunch of irises and sent them to a friend who needed more colors. He should get them by Friday. I don't know if he will be able to tell which colored blooms go with which plant, but it'll be a nice surprise next year if not. HA!

    Do you think dinosaurs ate irises? Tina? What about it? har har har. yes I'm giddy with the finally beautiful weather...

    Happy Saturday everyone.

  22. Loved this post! (Ok, and the page stopped for about ten minutes on Mr. Darcy... Must be some weird computer glitch.)

  23. Vince, that was awesome! I have to say, the 'not as wordy' approach does't always fit. I know a lot of wordy males, who happen to be pretty hot.

  24. Love this post! Maybe because I've found that I'm really enjoying writing from my guy character's point of view - much more than from the girl's. So what does that say about me? Maybe I just love my dear husband and want to understand how he ticks?

    And the Nebraska domination thing? I'll be there to sign a non-aggression treaty with South Dakota...

    Cooking in the virtual Dutch Oven today (Boy Scouts and the Black Hills, you know). "Shipwreck" is ready in mine, and "S'mores Cobbler" in my son's. Help yourselves.

  25. Yum! Love it when someone else cooks around here, Jan.

    I love giving away iris, KC. So much fun.

  26. I loved this! The man/woman dialogue totally cracked me up! I think pre-marital counselors should add that little excerpt to their material! lol It makes complete sense : ).

  27. Great post from the archives! Enjoyed the tips from you knowledgeable authors.


  28. Hi Virginia:

    You wrote:

    'I know a lot of wordy males, who happen to be pretty hot'.

    I think it’s called evolution. When these talkative guys start getting all the girls, a lot more men will be joining Toastmasters.


  29. Wow, lots to think about. I think I have improved my guy speak some, but I'm sure I have lots of room for improvement. Thanks for getting my synapses firing today.

  30. LOL, Vince. Evolution, huh??

    How you doin'?


  31. Glad this post could make all of you think about guy speak a bit more.

    Go out and eavesdrop and come back and report in.

  32. Loved this post, Tina! And I love Dave Barry, he's just hilarious.

    The Seeker points were, as always, very helpful. And I'll have to go through my ms and make sure my men are men through and through.

    Went out on the rifle range today, so it was a good place to pick up some guy speak and let off some steam.


  33. How to think like a man?

    As someone who spent the afternoon watching the replay of a football game that I actually paid money to purchase, I would say that we're very simple creatures.

    We like food. We like our sports. We like food. We like our cars.
    We like food. We like big screen TVs.

    We also like critiques.


  34. I do have a friend in Oregon who once appeared in a Dave Barry column about men. I wonder if he's in the book.

  35. A True Guy Story That Just Happened

    Friday I ordered “Gems of Wisdom”, Angela Breidenbach’s new book from her website. She was on her way to mail book orders at the time and added mine to the post office trip. Today, Saturday, it comes in the mail just as I am leaving my office to go to my first WIN meeting: that’s the local chapter of ACFW.

    Thinking I have this book one day after the author got her copies form the publisher, I took it to the meeting. You never know. It’s a good talking point.

    A lady sitting at my table kept looking at the book. Afterwards she came up and asked how I got a copy so quickly. Being a guy, I just proudly said: “Oh, I know the author.”

    So, she says, “And I wrote the forward.”

    I felt like Bogart (Rick) in Casablanca , you know, ‘of all the gin joints…” etc.

    What are the odds that I would be sitting next to the author who wrote the forward to this book?

    BTW: Margaret Daley was very nice about this. I about to tell her that I was a member of the national ACFW but was saved when someone mentioned that Margaret was the President!!! That was a close call.


  36. Oh, my gosh, Vince...serendipity!

    That is hilarious.

    And here is another serendipitous moment. I use that Bogart line in my new book I am writing.

  37. The rifle range? Wow, I haven't shot a weapon since the Army. It was an M16 back then. Ouch, I am dating myself.

  38. Walt, you are a hoot.

    Like how you slipped that critique in there. LOL.

  39. It was 12 gauge shotguns today at skeet. Nothing as fancy as an M16.

  40. This is really great timing for me since I'm working on layering my wip. I can go back and look to make sure the guys sound like guys. Thanks for all the great tips, ladies!

    The males in my life tend to be deeper thinkers than most. So, it may be a little more difficult for me to make them "realistic."

  41. Amber, I am SO with you on the sadness of the story. Part of me thinks, are Christian guys like that? How much to they differ and how much are they the same?

  42. The guys in my life are all about sports. One son can compare almost anything to a sporting event, or a sport move as in lay up etc.
    I love this blog, it's good to get other guys' perspective also.

  43. Do I need to leave my addy for the critique?


    My dad enjoys listening to a talkative woman, but doesn't like to talk. My older brother uses the shortest most clipped responses you'll ever hear... sometimes his answer is silence. I kid you not. My younger brother talks and jokes and teases. When my husband thinks out loud when he's processing something. He asks a gazillion questions and talks about every angle. Unless it's something I want to talk about. Then he's all guy. :D

  44. Wow, Linnette....

    I don't think affiliation matters much. At least not with the guys I know.


    I wouldn't have it any other way. In my world, guys that think too much are really fooling us. My wonderful son-in-law, quiet, staid, steadfast, strong, fervent about God....

    Still basically clueless about girl stuff a lot of times.


    He's adorable. and so nice. And a Minnesota fan, but we don't hold that against him.


  45. Great post, Tina (and I LOVE Dave Barry - - anything he writes always makes me laugh!). Since I missed this post the first time, I'm so glad you re-posted it today. ~ Blessings, Patti Jo :)

  46. Hi Tina:

    I thought they still used M-16s. I was issued an M-2 and was on a BAR team. Later I got an AR15. Being in K-9 I had an AR-15, plus a .38 combat master piece with adjustable sights, and a 134 pound dog. The Air Force was most worried about the dog.

    “Remember,” the sergeant said, “the dog doesn’t miss. You better be right if you let him loose.”

    Talking guns, that’s good guy talk.


  47. “Remember,” the sergeant said, “the dog doesn’t miss. You better be right if you let him loose.”

    I LOVE THIS!!!!! I claim it for a book first.

  48. I had to stop in and comment lol I loved this post. It was very interesting and fun to read:D
    I'd add Transformers to your list of male movies that show how guys think.

  49. You know, I've never seen Transformers. Or GI Joe. Adding both to my list.